Derby Dancing Project – 50 Years of Dancing in the City

Message from Grace Osbourne


Déda  are currently running a project called Derby Dancing, which is exploring the story of dance in Derby since 1950s.
We are looking for information, memories and photographs of Dancing in Derby, and wondered if you might be able to help us by contributing any relevant images or memories of stories of Derby. Please get in touch if you would like to contribute any relevant information about nightclubs in Derby.

Feel free to contact me via Locarno Boy if you would like any more information, or get in touch directly on 

Here is a link to our webpage

We look forward to hearing from you!


Note from Locarno Boy – Grace contacted Locarno Boy a few days ago and we have offered her any of the Derby and area contact from our site to help with the Déda Project.
Please keep a look out for further information.

The Pink Coconut Derby opened during December 1983

The Pink Coconut Derby opened during December 1983, although it could be said that Romeos and Juliets never really closed.

When the company directors set a profit target for Romeos and Juliets, they also promised a £230.000 budget for a complete refurbishment of the Colyear Street nightclub. In nightclub terms the budget was small, but luckily the company culture of the time was to ensure that everyone involved with decision making had a clear view of the facts.

Without doubt the sound systems had to be renewed to allow greater control of the volume throughout the rooms. The dance floors needed enlarging. And the toilets – oh dear – the toilets. How anyone coped with the tiny facility for such high attendances in Romeo and Juliets days is unimaginable, and probably best not asked.

On the positive side a near perfect team of entertainers, staff and support was already in place. There was also a capacity attendance of loyal customers, despite worn out carpets, wall coverings etc. To close the premises was unthinkable, where could the customers go to? And what if they found somewhere else and enjoyed it so much, they refused to return? No – the building could not close; and so the rolling refit began.

Romeos, the larger of the rooms was closed immediately. The room was stripped bare and major works began. Screens were built to cordon off the the work area, but some bare lighting was left on to show the customers how their club was progressing. Juliets was to become the Palm Grove, with the work undertaken from Sunday to opening time on the Thursday. The club only traded Thursday to Saturday.

Management were amazed at the enthusiasm of the staff and customers, who often helped to sweep,  dust, move building materials and generally tidy up. Later in the evening staff were often handed hammers, drills and other tools they had found in the club.

Group Northern, the design and build company may have an alternative view, but to the staff the refurbishment went like clockwork. Customers were amazed as shining chrome palm trees, illuminated planters, and neon covered bar ceilings reflected the symmetrical chrome features, glistened and reflected as the room came to life.

Whilst we now refer to the club as the Pink Coconut, it never had a working title because there was no budget for sign-age, letterheads etc. Luckily the Pink Coconut Brighton played a huge part in moving things forward.

On Tuesday the 13th and Wednesday 14th of December, the club opened to invited guests for trial runs. Then with all cylinders firing on the Wednesday for the VIP night.

It seems odd that one of the comments about the VIP night highlighted the number of millionaires in the venue, but this was well matched by the regular customers who felt they had been treated like millionaires. Because one thing was for sure –

Everyone was a VIP.

The image below gives a reminder of the simple but effective moving lighting feature, that filled the back of the stage, and illuminated the room.


Wonder if the guy in the striped shirt knows that he is mirroring the wallpaper, upholstery and carpet colour. He would have taken some finding if he had fallen asleep.

Tony Walker, Marie Burton and the management team worked hard, alongside Molly, Tracey and the remainder of the bar girls in their Lycra body stockings, Ida and the team in the cloakroom, Brenda on the buffet, Greg, Dave and co on the door, and the inimitable Bill in the gents toilets.

All in all a tremendous team, and a far reaching memory not only for former Derby club goers, but also those from around the country who visited the amazing Pink Coconut.




We found some pictures of the legendary guys who made R&Js Derby brilliant

Every now and again we come across images that really roll back the years, and amongst them we found some of the pictures of the legendary guys who made R&Js Derby brilliant.

In the early 1980s, the entertainment team included Dave Maurice, Martin Raynor and Glen Rodgers. They had an old “rock n roll” sound system in each of the two rooms, and the amazing ability to both pack the dance floors, and to keep the sound and lighting systems working with invaluable assistance from the staff at Potts in Babbington Lane.

Strategically placed televisions showed “Match of the Day” every Saturday during the football season, which ensured a capacity audience by 10.30pm, and completely “male free” dancefloors when Derby County were playing.

Live entertainment was becoming difficult, with the resident band playing on a darkened stage, initially to a packed dancefloor, then to the bare boards when the customers realised they were not dancing to the DJs.

The following image of Martin and Dave shows some of the history of the time; the large “mop cap” lamp shades through the opening are from the Peppermint Lounge restaurant area, and “Oh Dear” – the slash curtains to the left (these formed the backdrop to the stage. And yes! There was wiring everywhere – long before the epidemic of health and safety. And not only is Dave smoking – he is playing “records” – how time has moved on!


You will remember the story of the new assistant manager who was sent into report on R&Js before actually starting work there! Well – that is Paul on the left in the image below. Poor Dave looks as though he had been press ganged into being involved.

It`s a shame we don’t have images of the two lovely dancers from that time – Yeta Hall and Mary Minto – they were fabulous.


We see that Dave is reading a “mock” book – The Perfect Lover by Ron B.

Now pleased do n0t rush out to buy a copy. Ron Bromwich may well have been the author/culprit. He was an excellent food and beverage guy, but we found no evidence of the him being Perfect Lover, although he may well be working at this very moment on “Fifty Shades of Disco”.

We have no idea where you are now Ron, but we wish you the best of luck.

Then as time moved along another DJ was added to the team, and was spotted behind two young ladies outside the Old Bell in Sadlergate.


Chris Steadman was a legend, he not only knew what to play, he knew how and when to play it.

Chris came along after Dave and the team, and was one of the key players alongside John West, Dave Burley, Daryl Rodgers, and others – who were each vital in the business increase needed to obtain the funding required to create the Pink Coconut.

But that is another story.















Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961

We thought you would like to see a list of the Mecca Dance Halls and Managers from Summer 1961.

Clearly there are many town and cities not mentioned – such as Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, and many many others, but perhaps there is a clue in the number of planned openings highlighted in the list below.

Basildon Locarno – Town Centre – Manager     M Green

Belfast Plaza – Chichester Street – Manager    D R Clark  – Phone Belfast 25294

Blackburn Locarno – St Peter Street – Manager B Gee – Phone Blakewater 85538

Bolton Palais – Bridge Street – Manager W. McLeish – Phone Bolton 1451

Bradford Locarno – Manningham Lane – Manager Alan Boyce     (Opening 9th September 1961)

Burnley Locarno  – Manchester Road – Manager  C Isherwood   (Formerly the Mechanic`s Institute)

Bury   Prince`s Ballroom – Bolton Street – Manager L Byron – Phone Bury 1705

Coventry Locarno – Smithford Way – Manager R Bloxham – Phone Coventry 24570

Derby Locarno – Babington Lane – Manager A Ferris – Phone Derby 41441

Edinburgh Palais – Fountainbridge – Manager G Knowles – Phone Fountainbridge 7427

Hull Locarno – Ferensway – Manager J Munro       ( Opening 16th September 1961)

Ilford Palais – High Road – Manager B Foster – Phone Ilford 3128

Leeds Locarno – County Arcade – Manager J Savile – Phone Leeds 31046/7

Leicester Palais – Humberstone Gate – Manager G Pickavant – Phone 69967

Liverpool Grafton Rooms – West Derby Road – Manager T Reid – Phone Anfield 3928

London Lyceum – Wellington Street, The Strand – Manager D Preedy – Phone Temple Bar 3715

London Carlton Rooms – 140 Maida Vale, W 9 – Manager J H Richardson – Phone Maida Vale 5289

London Empire Rooms – Tottenham Court Road – Manager C Self – Phone Euston 4173

Manchester Plaza – Oxford Road – Manager P Wild – Phone Central 7441

Newcastle upon Tyne  The Mayfair – (Planned for opening during October 1961)

Norwich  Sampson and Hercules Ballroom – Tombland – Manager R V Shackell – Phone Norwich 21541

Norwich Norwood Rooms – Aylsham Road – Manager G Barbour – Phone Norwich 46751

Nottingham Sherwood Rooms – Greyfriar Gate – Manager N F Kemp – Phone Nottingham 50555

Nottingham Locarno – St Anns Well Road – Manager G Lloyd – Phone Nottingham 44354

Rochdale Carlton – Great George Street –  – Manager E Mills – Phone Rochdale 3347

Sale Locarno – Washway Road – Manager J Goodings – Phone Sale 1508

Sale Embassy Rooms – Washway Road – Manager H Burnett – Phone Sale 7522

Sheffield Locarno – London Road – Manager M S Proctor – Phone Sheffield 22586

Stevenage Locarno – Manager B A Elmer-Smith   (Opening September/October 1961)

Wakefield Locarno – Southgate – Manager R Keith – Phone Wakefield 6515/6

The biggest cheer went up for the Pink Coconut Derby mug

We`ve had pictures, fliers, booklets, stories, uniforms, secrets, memories, rumors and confessions sent into the Locarno Boy office – but the biggest cheer went up for the Pink Coconut Derby mug.

Anyone who bought a mug would have bought it from Sonia – who doubled up as one of the first CCTV operators – and she was the master!

While those inside the club danced to Madonna, Huey Lewis, The Thompson Twins, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Starship, Tears for Fears, WHAM, Phil Collins, USA for America, Chicago etc – Sonia kept  a watchful eye on those outside.

A moving camera at the bottom of the street identified those misbehaving – and a camera secreted at the front door captured the rest of the action.

Unfortunately the local idiots knew nothing about such technology – among which was the under brained  local football hooligans the Derby Lunatic Fringe (DLF) – who were upset at being banned from the club.

As retribution they contacted the Birmingham City hooligans – the Zulu Warriors – and asked them to create mayhem at the Pink Coconut. Which they did.

They charged the front doors with scaffold poles – which were jabbed through the slatted glass doors in an attempt to injure the security staff.

Eventually the police arrived, none of the staff was hurt, and the idiots dispersed. Any that were caught later denied ever having been near the Pink Coconut, and had an “alibi” from the DLF. Eventually solicitors pleaded their innocence, in the name of poor identification and wrongful arrests.

Alibis crumbled when they saw the CCTV images – and Sonia became a legend.

Word soon spread that if you caused any problems in range of the cameras Sonia would find you.

And her fame spread even further when Douglas Hurd, the then Home Secretary, viewed the footage when he visited Derby Police Station in 1985, to see the pioneering partnership work being undertaken between the Police and the licensed trade.

The working title of the partnership was PubWatch –

But that`s a whole new story for another day!










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